St. Louis Blogger Tells Kunstler He Got It Wrong

Steve Patterson, the writer of Streetsblog Network member blog UrbanReviewSTL, has long been a fan of anti-sprawl guru James Howard Kunstler.
But Patterson takes issue with Kunstler in a post today about the new
St. Louis Amtrak station, a multimodal facility that also serves as a
bus depot and light rail link. Kunstler just named it as his "eyesore
of the month."

Patterson concedes that the station has
its issues, and no one would argue that it can hold an aesthetic candle
to the city’s magnificent Union Station, which is now a shopping mall with a hotel and restaurants. But he says Kunstler rushed to judgment without all the facts:

kunstlereotm.jpgSo because Union Station is no longer used for rail transit our new
station is a "piece-of-shit." The problem I have is not the criticism
of the new station — a few [points] are correct. The problem is relying on an
account/pictures from a visitor from Chicago. I’m often critical of
projects and places but I always visit in person to see for myself
rather than be potentially misled by a reader.

Had
Kunstler done his homework he would have known it has been more
than 30 years since the last train backed out of Union Station. From
1978–2008, St. Louis’ Amtrak station was in two different portable
buildings (#1 1978–2004, #2 2004–2008). It is not like we stopped
using Union Station one day and [opened] the new station the next.

Our Gateway Station combines Amtrak and Greyhound with our
MetroLink light rail and MetroBus. I’d say that is a good
combination. Utilizing the space under the highway makes sense and
bringing these services together in one spot can help visitors.

One
of the best things about the Streetsblog Network is that it brings
together on-the-ground observers in more than 40 states and several
nations. If you want to know what’s going on in St. Louis, you can find
someone in St. Louis. Or Reno. Or Savannah. Or Indianapolis. Or any of dozens of communities.

Just click on the map you’ll find here and start exploring for yourself.

  • zsolt

    LOL. Sensitive much? I just don’t see how he is telling JHK he got it wrong. He does nothing to refute Kunstler’s criticism. I also question if he really understands Kunstler’s work and where he is coming from. That thing does look awful. Kunstler did not say anything about the utility of the building itself. That’s exactly his point — we have largely reduced architecture to building useful, but butt-ugly buildings. Also, does this blogger seriously expect JHK to visit each building he comments on?

  • Mark

    Kunstler is like a cranky uncle after he gets a glimpse of the apocalypse. He’s fun to listen to when he rants and dead-on almost all the time and absolutely irreplaceable, but he must run afoul of someone’s delicate sensibilities every day of his life. It is a shame that public transportation facilities all look like highway rest stops, but even an ugly facility is better than none.

  • Ted K.

    Ugly ? SAY WHAT ?! The link below is to a picture on Flickr. From this angle it looks decent – sort of American Modern with a touch of Bauhaus. Yes, Union Station (St. Louis) is a much nicer building. But if this station is well laid out on the inside then this would be a good baby step towards expanded rail service. I like the fact that four different services come together near or at this station.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/12387998@N02/3696462229/

    (PDF) http://www.metrostlouis.org/MetroBus/Maps/SystemMaps/MapDowntown080309_1.pdf

    P.S. Try comparing this station to an S.F.Bay area BART station (many of which are from the Brutalist school). Some of those stations range from ugly to gnarly troll house.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

All Aboard the Great Streetcar Debate

|
Streetcars provoke strong emotions in transpo geeks. A recent post on Human Transit called "Streetcars: An Inconvenient Truth" precipitated a very informed and sometimes heated thread of discussion on the relative virtues of light rail vs. bus rapid transit (a mode that got its moment in the limelight just this morning). Streetcars: Everybody’s got an […]